Side quests: Gamification of extension activities

The other day on a Twitter chat (where else do you get new ideas?!) I saw someone mention side quests. (And now I don’t remember who and I really wish I could remember who so I could credit them! If you know who then tell me so that I can!) Side quests would be a way to gamify the classroom. Students can gain points for completing quests that are connected to the curriculum being taught.

We are just starting a literature unit teaching horror, mystery, and suspense. The side quests are then centered around these concepts.

I am requiring that students complete one side quest during the unit. The gamification part comes in that, for every side quest students complete, they will receive one point. The student with the most points at the end of the unit (ie the one who has done the most side quests) will get a prize.

I have a list of side quests that they can complete. After completing a quest, I’ve made a pretty generic Google form with questions that they must fill out to connect the quest to our unit. They will then fill out the form every time they complete a quest to the same Google Classroom assignment. This will make it easy to keep track of–I can see who wins just based on the assignments turned in to that one assignment.

One class I use Classcraft with. I think that the next time I do side quests, I will integrate them into Classcraft as an assignment as well as XP. That will make the gamification come alive!

The side quests themselves were pretty easy to come up with. I have tons that are varied. They are as simple as reading a book to webquests (that I found already made) to online games that go along with our unit to watching documentaries.

After using this system for the unit, I have decided that I will use this as a complete system for next year. For each unit, I will have side quests that students can complete. These will be the extension activities that I’ve found. In addition, I will have side quests going for the entire school year for extension activities that can be completed independent of the unit that we’re on. I’m not sure how I’ll incentivize these year-round side quests. I’ll perhaps have them on a quarterly-basis. In addition, if I don’t use something like Classcraft for each class, I think I’ll have a leaderboard on a google sheet that is viewable by all the students.

If you’d like to see the docs, you can take a peek here.


Author: karinhogen

I teach middle school language arts and run an Edtech company, DocentEDU, on the side. Every day is an adventure in my classroom with technology!

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